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Chapter 3: The Lomography Manifesto

One Sunday afternoon, a Lomographer came up with the 'Lomographic Manifesto' which, was also inspired by the first 12 months of Lomography which is filled with all sorts of adventures, discussions, and thoughts from the eager young Austrians who 'discovered' the unique plastic camera during a trip the LC-As' motherland.

This article was then the first ever newspaper article about Lomography.

How the Lomography Manifesto and the 10 Golden Rules were born

The Lomography Manifesto and the 10 Golden Rules were inspired by the first 12 months of Lomography and the accompanying adventures, discussions and thoughts that captured the young Austrians. One Lomographer wrote the ‘Lomographlc Manifesto’ on a Sunday afternoon and later on gave the paper to another one for his 25th birthday. Then they came up with the 10 Golden Rules of Lomography a few days later and everything was done and dusted. The ‘Lomographic Society’ was ready to be officially founded! Just before the first Lomography exhibition in November 1992, the ‘Wiener Zeitung’ (Viennese newspaper) asked what Lomography actually was, the Lomographers simply faxed the manifesto to the newspaper, which it printed word for word on the 5th of November 1992.

“The Lomography Manifesto*
Lomography is not a clever idea thought up by a marketing strategist, inventor or artist. Lomography emerged as a consequence of an accidental meeting concerning the technical, economic, social and artistic conditions. And as such had to be developed. The name “Lomography” derives from a camera manufacturer in St Petersburg (LOMO = Leningradskoye Optiko Mechanichesckoye Obyedinenie), who bestowed the world with a revolutionary camera. It is extremely user-friendly (dimensions: 10×6×4 cm, similar to a MINOX), has an optimal automatic exposure facility, an extraordinary wide angle lens (32mm, built-in external “closable” cap, excellent sharpness, and high focal range). Last but not least, due to its truly exceptional low price this camera signifies a new approach to the technical aspect of photography, namely Lomography.

In terms of commerce, various supermarket chains have largely paved the way for Lomography. Recently it has become possible “to put up to 38 photos onto paper” (film and developing + 38 prints in a 7xlO cm format) for approximately 100 Shillings whereas the older generation had to pay 400 Shillings. This fall in price and accompanying expansion in the demand for photography may be assessed as an indication of the creative and artistic potential lying dormant in the modern person who goes shopping in supermarkets.

However, it was the social and artistic conditions of the nineties that first launched Lomography and made it what it is today. Highly elitist and in many respects holier-than-thou cultural institutions (theatres, museums, galleries) either struggle to sustain their own survival or must be subsidised by the State.

In contrast, more and more spontaneous creative and artistic expressions exist which do not shy away from contact with or even arise from the “private sector” (sponsoring, parties with entrance fees, private exhibitions, bands, advertising, film, film scores). Furthermore, composition and art is understood more and more as a neutral medium of expression. In many cases creative expressions go beyond the commercial interests of the artists (photography, videos etc.) – and therefore defy the sovereign State and its often seemingly medieval regulations (trade regulations, media laws) with pirate radio, graffiti, illegal placards and the like.

Nowadays trends are not recognised in art by their content. According to opinion polls today, these are changing faster and faster into the experimental phase of social pluralism while the times of dogmatic rigidity are becoming extinct. The immediacy, audacity and speed in which different standpoints and conflicting contents are conveyed, often at the same time, (self-criticism – ironic approach in philosophy) are at best perceived as a standard zeitgeist of the times – a trend.

Lomography is a fast, immediate and unashamed form of artistic expression. Due to the commercial conditions Lomographers can largely be independent from economic constraints. Costs of materials, (cameras, film etc.) are reduced to a minimum and therefore financial constraints, forced reserve and discipline are no longer an issue when taking photos. The “extravagant experiment” is finding its way into mass photography.

It is primarily the technology of the LO MO LC-A which gives it its true identity. It fits in any trouser pocket, has a wide angle lens and is simple to use (quick focusing, everything else is automatic). Therefore, tedious preparation and particularly the view through the view finder (due to the wide angle lens) are not necessary. By “shooting from the hip” the living motif cannot be influenced or caught off guard in terms of its appearance. Moreover, in contrast to a classical photo set up (creative performance art) it is incomparably impartial. The essence of Lomographic methods lies in the short time it takes between discovering your motif and the exposure.

Therefore, the embarrassment in taking photos and “privacy” are dismantled – a declared desire of Lomography.

This particularly applies to “poor light levels” which is no problem for the LOMO LC-A. Little light and the corresponding time exposure (no flash), the wide angle lens (and also the small photo format) protects from strong blurring due to shaking of the camera. Therefore, this makes it consistently possible to publicise our personal spheres. Often at night because of the time exposure and motion blur and the soft yellow red colour of artificial light the authenticity of photos is restored which in classical photography has fallen prey to the flash.

Slowly we are approaching the core of Lomography. Art work and constructing themes take a back seat. Photography is not thought up but emerges as a document and at the same time as an integral part of a situation. There are no “good” or “bad” photos only more or less “true”, “authentic” photos. This authenticity is achieved through almost mechanical, routine, and “thoughtless” snaps. What is important for Lomographers is that the paradox role of the smart voyeur may be captured at the centre of events.

The art of “junk”, the desire to publish, the joy in consumption and in alleged mass numbers (no motif is unworthy of being lomographed), the destruction of traditional practices (seriousness of art, privacy, classical aesthetics of photography etc) are the salt of Lomography, supermarkets are the butter and the LOMO LC-A is the bread.

Commerce and technology have therefore laid the cornerstone for Lomography as a contemporary means of photographic expression. Social development at the end of the 20th Century (progressive liberalism and pluralism) blurs the boundaries between public and private, between art, consumption and commerce, between the general and the specific. It is on these boundaries that Lomography is to settle. To be able to enjoy strolling across these boundaries, Lomographers and their LOMO LC-A are becoming a happy couple in almost every situation of life.

Have the full glory of the book

written by cruzron

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch, 한국어, Spanish, Português, Italiano, 日本語, Türkçe, 中文(繁體版) & ภาษาไทย.